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Designation: D5873 05

Standard Test Method for

Determination of Rock Hardness by Rebound Hammer
This standard is issued under the fixed designation D5873; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of
original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A
superscript epsilon () indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

1. Scope* Specimens and Verifying Conformance to Dimensional

1.1 This test method covers the testing apparatus, sampling, and Shape Tolerances
test specimen preparation, and testing procedures for determin- D4879 Guide for Geotechnical Mapping of Large Under-
ing the rebound hardness number of rock material using a ground Openings in Rock
spring-driven steel hammer, referred to variously as a rebound D7012 Test Method for Compressive Strength and Elastic
hammer, impact test hammer, or concrete test hammer. Moduli of Intact Rock Core Specimens under Varying
States of Stress and Temperatures
1.2 This test method is best suited for rock material with 2.2 ISRM Standards:
uniaxial compressive strengths (see Test Method D7012) Suggested Method for Determination of Schmidt Rebound
ranging between approximately 1 and 100 MPa. Hardness3
1.3 The portable testing apparatus may be used in the Suggested Method for Quantitative Description of Discon-
laboratory or field to provide a means of rapid assessment of tinuities in Rock Masses3
rock hardness or to serve as an indicator of rock hardness.
3. Terminology
1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the
standard. 3.1 For common definitions of terms in this standard, refer
to Terminology D653.
1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the
safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the 3.2 Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard:
responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appro- 3.2.1 rebound hammera portable, spring loaded, piston-
priate safety and health practices and determine the applica- type, steel hammer used to classify the hardness of rock in the
bility of regulatory limitations prior to use. field or laboratory.
3.2.2 rebound hardness numberHR, a dimensionless num-
2. Referenced Documents ber representing empirically determined, relative hardness of
2.1 ASTM Standards:2 rock material or other hard substance by use of a rebound
C805 Test Method for Rebound Number of Hardened Con- hammer.
D420 Guide to Site Characterization for Engineering Design 4. Significance and Use
and Construction Purposes 4.1 The rebound hardness method provides a means for
D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained rapid classification of the hardness of rock during site charac-
Fluids terization for engineering, design, and construction purposes
D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies (see Guide D420), geotechnical mapping of large underground
Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as openings in rock (see Guide D4879), or reporting the physical
Used in Engineering Design and Construction description of rock core (see Practice D4543). The rebound
D4543 Practices for Preparing Rock Core as Cylindrical Test hardness number, Hr, can serve in a variety of engineering
applications that require characterization of rock material.
These applications include, for examples, the prediction of
This test method is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and penetration rates for tunnel boring machines, determination of
Rock and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee D18.12 on Rock Mechanics.
Current edition approved Nov. 1, 2005. Published November 2005. Originally
rock quality for construction purposes, and prediction of
approved in 1995. Last previous edition approved in 2005 as D5873 00(2005)e1. hydraulic erodibility of rock.
DOI: 10.1520/D5873-05.
For referenced ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website,, or
contact ASTM Customer Service at For Annual Book of ASTM Brown, E. T., ed., Suggested Methods: Rock Characterization, Testing, and
Standards volume information, refer to the standards Document Summary page on Monitoring, International Society of Rock Mechanics: Pergamon Press, London,
the ASTM website. 1981.

*A Summary of Changes section appears at the end of this standard

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D5873 05
4.2 This test method is of limited use on very soft rock or only by repeated, heavy blows with a geological hammer and
very hard rock (unconfined compressive strengths less than cannot be scratched with a common 20d steel nail.
approximately 1 MPa or greater than 100 MPa).
7. Specimen Preparation
4.3 The results of this test method are not intended for
7.1 For a block or core specimen, determine its length by
conversion to strength data suitable for design.
taking the average of four lengths measured at four equally
NOTE 1Several types of rebound hammers are commercially available spaced points on the circumference and record to the nearest 5
to accommodate testing of various sizes and types of concrete construction mm.
(See Test Method C805) and rock material.
NOTE 2The quality of the result produced by this standard is 7.2 For a block or core specimen, determine its diameter by
dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the taking the average of two diameters measured at right angles to
suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the each other approximately midway along the length of the
criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent
and objective testing and sampling. Users of this standard are cautioned
specimen and record to the nearest 5 mm.
that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself assure reliable 7.3 Report the moisture condition of the block or specimen.
results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice D3740 provides
a means of evaluating some of those factors. 7.4 The test surface of all specimens, either in the laboratory
or in the field, shall be smooth to the touch and free of joints,
5. Apparatus fractures, or other obvious localized discontinuities to a depth
of at least 6 cm. In situ rock shall be flat and free of surface grit
5.1 Rebound Hammer, consisting of a spring-loaded piston,
over the area covered by the plunger. If the surface of the test
or hammer, which is projected against a metal anvil in contact
area is heavily textured, grind it smooth with the abrasive stone
with the rock surface. The hammer must travel with a fixed and
described in 5.4.
reproducible velocity. The rebound distance of the piston from
the steel plunger is measured in a linear scale attached to the 8. Calibration
frame of the instrument and is taken as an empirical measure of
8.1 Prior to each testing sequence, calibrate the hammer
rock hardness.
using a calibration test anvil supplied by the manufacturer for
5.2 Steel BaseA steel base of minimum mass of 20 kg to that purpose.
which specimens are securely fastened. Rock core specimens 8.1.1 Place the calibration anvil in the core holder and
may be tested in a steel cradle with a semicylindrical machined conduct ten readings on the anvil.
slot of the same radius as the core, or firmly seated in a steel 8.1.2 Calculate the correction factor by dividing the manu-
V-block, see Suggested Method for Determination of Schmidt facturers standard hardness value for the anvil by the average
Rebound Hardness. of the ten readings taken on the anvil.
5.3 Calibration AnvilThe standard calibration block used NOTE 3If the instrument reads lower than the manufacturers standard
to calibrate the rebound hammer. hardness value, the correction factor will be greater than unity. If the
readings are higher, the correction factor will be less than unity.
5.4 Abrasive StoneA medium-grained texture silicon car- NOTE 4Operation of the rebound hammer is satisfactory if the
bide or equivalent material. calibration readings fall within the range provided by the manufacturer. If
the calibration readings fall outside this range, the instrument must be
6. Sampling cleaned, adjusted, or returned to the manufacturer for correction.
NOTE 5Rebound hammers require periodic servicing and verification
6.1 Drill core specimens shall be NX or larger core of at to provide reliable results.
least 15 cm in length. Block specimens shall have edge lengths 9. Procedure
of at least 15 cm. Rock surfaces tested in place, including
natural outcrops or prepared surfaces such as tunnel walls or 9.1 Place the steel base on a flat, level surface that provides
floors, shall have a smooth, flat test area at least 15 cm in firm, rigid support, such as a concrete floor.
diameter. 9.2 Securely clamp rock core specimens in a steel cradle
6.2 Samples shall be representative of the rock to be studied. with a semicylindrical machined slot of the same radius as the
Obtain samples by direct sampling of subsurface rock units core, or firmly seat into a steel V-shaped block. Securely clamp
with core borings or by sampling blocks of rock material from block specimens to the rigid steel base in such a manner as to
outcrops that correlate with the subsurface rock unit of interest. prevent vibration and movement of the specimen during the
At surface outcrops, avoid sampling and testing rock material test.
weakened by weathering or alteration or is otherwise unrepre- 9.3 For tests conducted on specimens in the laboratory,
sentative of the rock material of interest, see Suggested Method orient the instrument within 5 of vertical with the bottom of
for Quantitative Description of Discontinuities in Rock the piston at right angles to and in firm contact with the surface
Masses. of the test specimen. A guide may be used to ensure the
6.3 The rebound hammer is generally unsuitable for very rebound hammer is positioned for optimum performance.
soft or very hard rock. Conduct simple field tests to quickly Position the hammer not less than one diameter from the edge
assess a rock materials suitability for the rebound hammer test of the specimen.
method. Scratch very soft rock with a fingernail and peel with 9.4 For tests conducted in situ on a rock mass, the rebound
a pocket knife. An intact specimen of very hard rock breaks hammer can be used at any desired orientation provided the

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D5873 05
plunger strikes perpendicular to the surface tested. The results more than seven units and determine the average of the
are corrected to a horizontal or vertical position using the remaining readings. To calculate the rebound hardness number
correction curves provided by the manufacturer. (HR) of the tested rock material, multiply this average by the
9.5 Before conducting the tests, ensure the hammer is at the correction factor determined in 8.1.2 and record the results to
same temperature as the test specimens by exposing it to the the nearest whole number.
ambient environmental conditions of the test area (indoors or
outdoors) for at least 2 h. 11. Report
9.6 Compress the hammer spring by gradually depressing 11.1 Report the following minimum information for each
the plunger until the hammer is triggered and impact occurs. specimen or test area:
9.7 Read and record the height of the plunger rebound to the 11.1.1 Source of samples, including geographic location;
nearest whole number, as measured on an arbitrary scale of 10 boring number, depth, orientation, and stationing; and rock
to 100 divisions located on the side of the hammer, before type,
restoring the piston to its original extension. Repeat this 11.1.2 Weathering and alteration condition of samples, par-
procedure at ten representative locations on the specimen. Test ticularly when sampling a surface outcrop,
locations shall be separated by at least the diameter of the 11.1.3 Type of specimen (core, block, or in situ); size and
piston and only one test may be taken at any one point. shape of specimen; and, if block type, whether cut or blasted,
9.8 If a specimen breaks during rebound testing, energy is 11.1.4 Date of sampling and date of testing,
absorbed during breakage and, consequently, the rebound 11.1.5 Storage conditions of samples (for example, expo-
reading will be lower than had it not broken. Any individual sure to temperature extremes, air drying, and moisture
impact test that causes cracking or any other visible failure changes),
shall cause that test and the specimen to be rejected. 11.1.6 Type and model number of hammer,
9.9 Some factors that may affect the results of the test 11.1.7 Orientation of the plunger axis during the test,
include: 11.1.8 Method of securing the sample (for example,
9.9.1 Rock at 0 C or less may exhibit very high rebound V-block, or clamps),
values. 11.1.9 Number of tests conducted,
9.9.2 Temperature of the rebound hammer itself may affect 11.1.10 Temperature of site at time of test, and
the rebound number. The hammer and materials to be tested
should be at the same temperature. 11.1.11 The individual and average values of hammer re-
9.9.3 For readings to be compared, the direction of impact, bound, the value of the correction factor, and the rebound
horizontal, upward, downward, and so forth, must be the same. hardness number, HR (obtained in 10.1).
9.9.4 Different hammers of the same nominal design may
give rebound numbers differing from one to three units and 12. Precision and Bias
therefore, tests should be made with the same hammer in order 12.1 PrecisionNo data exist to determine the precision of
to compare results. If more than one hammer is to be used, a this test method in determining rock hardness.
sufficient number of tests must be made on typical rock
surfaces to determine the magnitude of the differences to be 12.2 BiasThere is no accepted standard value for HR for
expected. any material, therefore bias cannot be determined.

10. Calculation 13. Keywords

10.1 Using the data from the ten readings obtained in 9.7, 13.1 core; hardness; rock mass; rock; unconfined compres-
discard readings differing from the average of ten readings by sive strength

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D5873 05

In accordance with Committee D18 policy, this section identifies the location of changes to this standard since
the last edition (00(2005)) that may impact the use of the standard.

(1) Deleted Test Method D2938 in Sections 1.2 and 2.1, and
replaced with Test Method D7012.

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